A Work of Fiction
Disclaimer: Not mine <sigh>. They belong to Watson / Mirisch /Trilogy /MGM and others who don't seem to understand what they got... This piece of fanfic is purely for fun, no monetary value or profit of any kind is attached to it, and suing me would be a waste of time unless you really want 3 demented cats and an 11 year old car with a terrible personality disorder
My thanks to all the talented fanfic authors out there who have truly inspired me, to my pal Paula and to my sister Margaret, who both think I'm mad, but still beta for me without complaint. This is dedicated to ALL you gals out there who slave away in secretarial / admin / support and the like - if you could work in any office, anywhere, I wonder where you would choose? <g>
Authors Notes: Just a light-hearted little thing, one of those PWP's to (hopefully) raise a wistful smile. Feedback welcome.
The office was almost empty. Chris Larabee was, as usual, the last to leave. He picked up his car keys from the desk, locked the drawers with a key from the bunch, and snapped off the desk lamp. Peace. A most unusual state of affairs for this place. His desk was neat, tidy and completely devoid of even the slightest personal adornment. Just the way he liked it. He walked out into the dimness of the bullpen and cast a long gaze around the other desks. Strange how they gave away a little of each of their usual occupants.
Vin Tanners desk was neat, a list of To Dos in Vins tortured handwriting sat on the right hand side. There were paperclips in a terracotta pot with an Indian design on the front, a tray of bulging files, a wooden pen holder with an ink etch of a horses head on the front, and a wood framed photo of the animal that Chris thought was probably the most ornery horse in the entire world, Vin's beloved Peso, trotting through a field, his mane and tail flying in the wind.
Buck Wilmingtons desk looked, as usual, as if it had been rifled by a thief in a hurry. A haphazard pile of papers, admittedly all in one place, but still an untidy heap, sat in the centre, surrounded by scores of pieces of paper, all covered in Bucks unmistakable sloping scrawl. There were an inordinate number of names and telephone numbers, all of which, Chris knew without checking, would be female. Yellow post-it notes adorned every available surface: Diandra call Tues 7041692, Beth (sports car!) 1792525, Lynda 5062177 and on, and on. There was a framed photo of Team 7, taken, Chris vaguely remembered, at a party for someones birthday. Another picture, of JD and Buck grinning inanely at the camera, their arms around each others shoulders, looking very drunk, was clipped to the edge of a small plaque that read: Life is like a dog-sled team ~ if you aint the lead dog, the scenery never changes. Typical Buck.
Ezra Standishs desk looked singularly out of place as if belonged somewhere else entirely. Polished to a burnished shine - unlike any of the others, which received a cursory flick of the cleaners duster perhaps once a month it almost glowed. A slim gold Parker pen sat in its gold holder, positioned exactly beside a burgundy leather covered desk pad. A heavy silver frame contained an official photo of the Team, and a note clip, fashioned in silver, of a Royal Flush hand of cards, enclosing a couple of notes in Ezras neat, flowing hand.
JD Dunnes desk was almost as untidy as Bucks. Dozens of CD cases, piled and scattered. Copies of Computer Gamer, Advanced IT and other, similar, publications covered the surface. The photo in the wooden frame contained a photo of JD on his beloved motorbike, with a smaller photo of Buck, wearing a Santa hat and looking as if he were asleep, or perhaps unconscious, tucked in the corner. There were masses of notepad pages, written in JDs always-in-a-hurry style, containing notes that, for the most part, looked like an alien language. With JDs penchant for all things computer oriented, his knowledge of techno-babble was part of his everyday vocabulary.
Nathan Jacksons desk was neat, with a row of text books held in a pair of wooden book ends. The books were all medically oriented, both conventional and alternative. A small glass ornament, in the shape of an arch and engraved with the universal sign of medicine, the caduceus, sat in the centre. A large green plant, which Nathan tended with almost fanatical devotion, took up the corner of the desk, with a framed photograph of Rain set neatly beneath it. Notes made in Nathans minute handwriting were tucked into a clear plastic file, neatly labelled In Progress.
Josiah Sanchez's desk also contained text books, but heavier volumes than Nathans. These, Chris knew, were reference books on psychology, but that was a far as he cared to delve into them. His brain would be spinning with the indecipherable language before the bottom of page 1. There were several photos of team members, including one of himself receiving a citation for bravery, in a multi-picture frame, and a large, black leather bound Bible. Chris found it strange how often the Bible and psychology went together, and Josiah had found it an invaluable source of reference. A heavy glass paperweight, containing a silver replica of the ATF badge, sat atop a pile of papers, all covered from head to foot in Josiahs large, dark, rounded handwriting.
In the corner, nearest the door, sat Caits desk. Neat, orderly, no photos, just a small potted plant bearing a mass of sweet-smelling light mauve flowers that Chris could not have identified if youd paid him. Carefully labelled and numbered files, neatly arranged so that each label showed, were placed on the edge.
Cait was Team 7s latest and, thus far, most successful, Secretarial and Support Services (inevitably nicknamed SASSys by Buck) operative. Team 7 may have had an enviable record of solving cases, but could not boast the same for their secretaries. They seemed to get through them at a truly frightening pace. Cait was the eighth (or was it ninth? Chris pondered) in just over a year. Something about the team seemed to have a horrific effect on these fairly normal individuals, turning women who had worked, in some cases for a considerable time, for other teams, into stressed-out, miserable individuals in a remarkably short space of time. No-one seemed to be able to tolerate his 'boys' for very long. Their exuberance and very different personalities made sharing an office with them all a challenge which the vast majority of secretaries seemed unequal to. The team spirit that worked so well for the Magnificent Seven seemed to poison those who were unfortunate enough to be asked to provide the admin support for them.
Then came Cait. Small, inoffensive, quiet, her large brown eyes and even larger owlish spectacles giving her a faintly bookish look.
Ill give her two weeks, Chris had thought on that first morning, shell never stand the pace.
To his relief, he had been quite wrong. She was methodical, neat, had a meticulous memory, always ensured that whatever papers Chris needed were within six inches of his right hand, produced error-free letters and memos, and reports that were filed away in order. She kept Buck's advances at bay with good humour, soothed Ezra's famous flashes of temper, in Vin's words, 'his snitty fits', with Earl Grey tea and sympathy. She was kind-hearted and motherly towards JD, attentive to Nathan's advice, respectful of Josiah and quiet and calm around Vin.
She kept the desks ordered without invading anyones space, always seemed to know where lost files were and had an endless supply of mints, aspirin and tissues. She made coffee the way everyone seemed to like it, ensured that ordered donuts and pizza were always accompanied by fresh fruit (to appease Nathan) in short, she was a resounding success. So much so that Chris had even begun to lose that sense of impending doom he always had when everything seemed to be going too well. Hell, she was always in the office before any of them in the morning, and always stayed late unless the Team were working late, in which case she made herself scarce at quitting time. She was almost unimpeachable. Dont jinx it he thought to himself, as he opened the door to leave.
He had only taken two steps down the corridor, his mind already mentally reviewing the next day, when he remembered. Dammit! He had intended to ask Cait to print out the firearms re-certification forms for the team and had completely forgotten. "Ill do it tomorrow," he said to himself, but in the same instant, knew he would forget if he didnt do it now. He debated leaving a note on her desk, but then decided not to. Hell, there was a computer terminal on every desk, he only had to access the file and print it out a two minute job.
As Caits desk was nearest, he decided to use her computer, and sat down, almost crippling himself when his knees banged heavily into the underside of her desk. Hell! He had forgotten how much shorter than him she was, and her gas-lift chair was set much higher than his own.
Her monitor glowed when he touched the mouse, the twisting ATF screensaver popping into view. Her computer desktop was as well ordered as everything else about her.
A neat grid of yellow folder icons, ordered alphabetically, listed everything on her hard disk. He only wanted standard forms, everyone had copies of all the standard templates. He double clicked the icon saying Caits files, looking for the folder. He located it, being one of only three on the screen, when something caught his eye. The information bar said four folders, one hidden. He frowned. Hidden? He mused for a moment or two. Why would Cait hide a folder? Probably writing letters to her friends on company time, he thought. Not strictly allowed, but not exactly a felony. He tried to ignore the tiny nagging doubt that he felt creeping into his gut. To put his mind at rest, he tried to access the folder, but it was locked and passworded. Something that felt horribly like suspicion was creeping around in his stomach. Cait worked for the ATF, she had access to sensitive information that no, surely not! Chris knew that the only way to be certain was to access the folder.
Hating himself, he used his high-security Team Leader password to override her precautions, and finally, the mysterious hidden folder was revealed. It was an ordinary, yellow folder icon, labelled simply FF. He double clicked the mouse.
Inside the first folder he found seven more: CL, VT, ES, BW, JD, NJ, JS. A folder for each team member. Chris felt the suspicion rising in his throat. What was she doing? Collecting information on team members for what? Was she Internal Affairs? A mob plant? The possibilities raced around his head.
Instinctively, he opened his own folder first. A series of what looked like ordinary Word documents were listed on the screen, with strange names: Loyalty, Walking Over Coals, Without Question, and many others. He frowned. Strange names for secret dossiers. He double clicked the first document, Against The Odds'. The word document opened on the screen before him.
"Against The Odds" by Cait, he read, "What turns a good team into a great team? What turns a great team into a legend? A man whose inspired leadership had taken six mavericks and transformed them into magnificence.."
Chris frowned harder, his green eyes narrowing. What the hell was this?
The Next Afternoon
Josiah had been remarkably silent nearly all day. After a closed-door meeting in Chriss office before 11am, he had returned to his desk, and seemed to have spent the rest of the day staring at his computer screen, even foregoing a proper lunch in favour of a sandwich at his desk. He had made copious notes on the lined pad under his left hand, his eyes flicking from the monitor to the paper constantly. Now however, it was almost time to leave.
"YIIIPPPEEEE! Nearly quittin time!" JD yelled, spinning around in his chair, a broad grin plastered across his face. He stood up, grabbing his jacket from the chair back and closing the drawers of his desk.
"Hang on JD", Chriss voice drifted across the office, "Not so fast . I need a quick team meeting " There was a universal groan, ignored by Chris, followed by loud protestations:
"No Chris! Cmon! Ive gotta hot date ." Buck howled, raising his eyes to the ceiling.
"I have made dining arrangements which it would be mightily inconvenient to reorganise " Ezra's southern accent took on a peevishness that almost made Chris want to smile.
"Pard I gotta get my bike to the shop " Vin drawled, his blue eyes looked pleadingly at Chris as the Team Leader walked into the bullpen.
"ENOUGH!!" Chriss eyes went brighter by a megawatt, and everyone shut up. Instantly. He strode through the office with his one-more-word-and-Ill-kick-your-sorry-asses expression, and the other members of Team 7 rapidly found something to do that did not involve looking at him.
He stopped beside Caits desk and smiled at her. She looked a trifle startled, having seen a smile on his face only twice before, and certainly not one ever aimed at her, but even so, she smiled back. When he spoke to her, his voice was very calm. Almost friendly. That was enough to unsettle her entirely. "Cait, would you like to go home now? I have a team meeting "
"Of course Mr Larabee Ill be out of your way in a moment." Swiftly tidying her desk, she rose from her chair and picked up her bag, to a chorus of "Goodnight Caits" from the others.
When he was sure she was out of earshot, he motioned to the others; "My office everyone NOW!"
A few minutes later Team 7 were seated around Chriss desk, waiting for him to speak. His gaze swept around the six seated men. "Gentlemen", he said, "I think we have a slight problem "
If Chris were totally honest, he enjoyed watching the changing expressions of the others as he explained, concisely and without prejudice, about Caits secret vice. Their reactions were more or less as he had expected.
"Disgraceful! She should be summarily dismissed! The effrontery of it leaves me speechless! How dare she presume to comment on a Federal Agent I am mortally offended!" Ezra was in full 'snitty fit' mode, green eyes blazing.
"Much as hate to, I agree with Ez.." JD said, shaking his head; "Its too much of a risk having someone who watches and comments on what you do all the time I say we fire her "
"I think thats one little lady whos in serious need of a man " Buck said sadly, shrugging his shoulders.
"It could be hormonal I can probably help her with some diet suggestions," Nathan said, an expression of sympathy on his face.
Vin shrugged, unconcerned. "Seems pretty harmless to me, Chris "
Only Josiah, who was still making notes, was silent.
Chris withdrew a pile of initialled CDs from his top drawer.
"I have, without Caits knowledge, made copies of each your files," he said, handing out the CDs. "Before we decide what action we are going to take, you will, each of you, now, go to your desks and read your own file."
A chorus of groans greeted this instruction, but, with much scraping of chairs, they all stood up. Chris, despite himself, was smiling.
"Ive sent out for coffee and food . I think we might need it!"
Ezra was seething as he sat down at his desk, thrusting the CD into the drive with frustrated force, and he grasped the mouse as if to strangle it. "I have absolutely no desire to read the inane ramblings of some half-witted female, who obviously spends far too much of her time scribbling something called fan fiction," he muttered as the document opened on his screen and he began to read.
The gorgeous, green-eyed, Gucci-suited undercover agent seemed to have a devastating effect on nearly every female he ever came into contact with he read, and instantly thought he may have been a trifle hasty,
Perhaps it was the draw of his honey-coated accent, but more likely it was the lure of those amazing green eyes Suddenly, Ezra was interested.
+ + + + + + +
It was late. There was silence in the bullpen, only punctuated by an occasional cough or unconsciously uttered word. Screens glowed in the low light of the desk lamps. Empty pizza boxes and wax drinks cartons lay forgotten on the floor or desktops. There seemed to be an air of intense concentration. Six wide-eyed faces stared into six computer monitors, their owners occasionally leaning forward, staring intently, so as not to miss anything.
The lithe body of the sharpshooter was everything she had fantasised Vin read, squirming uncomfortably in his chair, secretly giving thanks for the fact that the others were far too absorbed to see him blush.
He risked a quick, furtive glance around. No-one was looking at him.
His eyes returned to the screen as if pulled by a magnet. slowly covering her naked flesh with kisses that were as wonderful as she always had suspected Vin gulped, feeling the fire in his face spread out to his ears. Phew! This was hot!
He read on, becoming more and more uncomfortable, but unable to stop himself. His jaw dropped a little. Sheesh! Was this what women really wanted? Then why in hell didnt they ever just say so? She was his, her heart captivated by the poetry that he had discovered was the key to unlocking every woman's soul
Notorious, but completely irresistible, the ladies' man had a reputation that preceded him wherever he went. One look from those blue eyes, and not even the strongest female stood a chance Buck smiled and nodded in complete agreement.
and it was only the efforts of their younger, often teased counterpart, that yet again had prevented the decimation of the Team.. JD read, his chest expanding a little. She was good. She was very good.
This gentle man's quiet care hovered protectively over the Team like an angels wing. Without him, they would all have been dead a long time ago Nathan smiled. Here was a lady with some understanding of his work.
Team 7 were re-assembled around Chriss desk, for once, silent. Chris nodded to Josiah. The big man stood up. "I have read all the files today", he said, and Vin blushed furiously, looking from left to right at the other team members, all of whom seemed quite comfortable with that statement, "and I have a few comments to make " he cleared his throat. "Mr Standish may I ask what you find offensive about someone who constantly refers to you as " he grinned quickly as he consulted his notes, " understanding, astute, debonair and courteous?"
"I may have been a little hasty in my original summation of the contents of my dossier " Ezra said, for once looking suitably humbled.
"Me too..." JD confessed, "It wasnt quite what I expected "
Josiah looked around at them all. "What do we have here? We have a woman who shows nothing but admiration, respect, loyalty and affection for us all. Sprinkled with perhaps a little too much hero-worship, but, all in all, a fondness and warmth for us that I think we are most uniquely privileged to have found. She is insightful of our personalities and seems, indeed, to have a window on one or two of our egos " he looked pointedly at Chris, who ignored him. "My recommendation is that we respectfully and diplomatically forget that we have ever seen these, they are, after all, a work of fiction, and leave Cait to do her job, which she performs exceedingly well. We have all been fortunate to have been privy to some of Caits dreams, I suggest we cherish them and leave them where they belong with Cait."
"Absolutely Mr Sanchez."
"If'n you think that's best, Josiah."
"Amen to that, Brother. A lady should be shown a little respect."
There was universal agreement. Cait would know nothing of their discovery. Her secret would remain secret. As they all got up to leave, Josiah placed a hand on Vins shoulder. The colour rushed to Vins face. "Hold on a second Vin", Josiah said, waiting for the others to leave. The door closed, leaving only Josiah, Vin and Chris in the office. Vin looked trapped, his blue eyes darting from Chris to Josiah from a face aflame with embarrassment.
"Sokay pard I read em.." Chris said, and Vins shoulders slumped.
"Shit," he said.
"Vin " Josiah said carefully, "I think you are perhaps the most special of us all to her. She seems to have chosen you as the repository of her most intimate desires and dreams. You must be especially tactful. You could hurt her very easily "
Vin railed. "Id never hurt Cait! Shes sweetness itself! I just well its its kinda embarrassin "
"What?" Chris cried. "Nonsense, pard! Id hardly call someone who thinks youre the personification of everything shes ever desired in a man embarrassing! Its a damn good job the others dont know what's in your file, or youd have some serious envy on your hands, especially from Ezra and Buck "
Vin hadnt thought of it like that. He suddenly realised that, rather than feel awkward and uncomfortable, he really should be quite proud of himself. Vin Tanner last of the red hot lovers! It actually made him feel quite good, now he came to think about it. Hed always thought of the quick-witted Ezra and the silver-tongued Buck as being the really attractive ones when it came to women, but, it now seemed, a real woman thought very definitely otherwise. His blushes faded a little and he stood up.
"Dont worry pards ." His voice held a hint of laughter, and his blue eyes smiled, " Ill be real gentle with her "
Buck and Ezra were waiting outside Chriss office. Ezra cleared his throat. "We were wondering if you would care to participate in our little arrangement, Mr Tanner Mr Wilmington and I have agreed to extend one another the courtesy of allowing each other access to these works of fiction "
"He wants to read your file", Buck explained.
"No way", Vin said firmly and Ezra pulled a face, his mind already working overtime. Hed find a way, you wait and see if he didnt.
The Next Morning
There was definitely something strange going on, Cait decided. Perhaps the team had a difficult assignment underway, or perhaps they were all going down with something. It had been a strange day from the outset. She had, as usual, arrived early, desperate to add the finishing touches to her latest FF piece on Nathan before they arrived.
Mr Larabee had arrived first, saying an almost cheery Good morning and smiling at her. Again. That was very scary. Then Nathan had arrived and given her a bar of health food he said he thought she might like to try. Very odd. JD greeted her with his usual Morning Cait but looked at her very strangely. Only Josiah seemed the same as ever, his bass rumble of Good morning Miss Cait unchanged. Buck had winked at her as he came in another first. And Ezra! Ezra had arrived earlier than she could ever remember, whistling down the corridor and strutting along as only he could, looking as if he had won a fortune.
"Why, Miss Cait! How very attractive you look this fine mornin!" he had grinned. Cait was perplexed. She was wearing the same suit she wore every Thursday Ezra Standish must have seen it at least a dozen times.
No sign of Vin yet.
She was typing up the diary sheet for the following week when Mr Larabee shouted from his office, "Wheres Vin?"
"Dunno Chris hes late " JD proffered.
At that moment, the door swung inwards and Vin Tanner appeared around it.
"Vin! Youre late!" Chris shouted.
"Sorry Chris had to wait for the bookstore to open "
"Bookstore Mr Tanner?" Ezra was incredulous.
He turned and smiled straight at Cait with those oh-so-disturbing blue eyes of his that always got her a bit flustered, " Been an bought myself a book of poetry ."
Cait flushed right to the roots of her hair. He knew! Then she realised. They all knew!
~ Finis ~
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